By Ryan Long.
A disappointing season on the field, winning just one senior game sees the Kings face relegation for a second-straight year.
Ladder Position: 10th (1-17, 38.78%)
Leading Goalkicker: Rory Bailey (21 goals)
Tough year on the field for Upper Gully, just the one win in Division Two sees them relegated for the second consecutive season.
The club have done it tough in recent years, finishing 2022 without a win on the board, playing in Division One. Over the off-season, they lost several of the key players including playing coach Luke Tynan, who made the move to Doncaster East.
Mark Fisher took over as senior coach of the side ahead of the 2023 season, as the senior side played off in Division Two.
After a 99-point loss in Round One at the hands of the Jets, the side bounced back the following week for a ground-breaking win over Knox.
Unfortunately for the Kings, it was their only win of the season, losing the final sixteen games of the year. Their next closest result came in Round 18 when Upper Ferntree Gully pushed East Burwood for four quarters, losing by just two points.
The side’s most consistent player in 2023 was Rory Bailey, in the best twelve times, also leading Upper’s goal kicking with 21 goals. Hayden Boyce wasn’t far behind him, eleven times listed in the best.
Jacob Richardson had a great season in the ruck, the big man competing against some incredibly tough opponents in 2023, holding his own.
They’ve also been able to unearth some young talented players such as Harvey Meyer, playing up from the Under 19’s. His impact was fantastic in the nine senior games he played in this year, in the best five of those times.
Best Win: Round Two – UFTG 11.12 78 def. Knox 10.14 74 @Knox Gardens Reserve
A famous day in the club’s history, Upper Ferntree Gully broke the club’s longest-ever losing streak at Knox Gardens Reserve.
Coming off a winless year in 2022, the club had been waiting 1344 days since the seniors and reserves had both won on the same day.
After managing just three goals in their opening game of the season, Upper Ferntree Gully kicked five in the opening term against Knox. A 26-point quarter-time lead was cut back at the following two changes. With seven minutes to play in the final quarter, the Falcons had hit the front. With four minutes to play, Travis Strange kicked the match-winner, his third for the game.
With injuries and fewer rotations, the side held on in the final few minutes to take home a four-point victory for the Kings.
It may not have been the season they were after this year, but the Kings can reflect on their Round Two victory with great memories.
Tenth place saw the club relegated to Division Three for the following year.
Although it’s another step backward, it’s the best thing that can happen for Mark Fisher and his crew. Just two senior wins in the last three years have the club starved for some on-field success.
By far the biggest positive for the club in 2022 was their Under 19’s program. A talented young group that advanced through to a Grand Final this year, providing a great contest to Surrey Park. The more senior footy that these guys play, the brighter the future for Upper Gully. But clearly, it’s super important that they start stringing together wins on the board next year to guarantee they stay at the club long-term.
On top of the youth, they’ve started to bring back some key experience to the club. Some of their inclusions include Russell Cowan from Powelltown, who has a long resume that includes league best and fairests, team of the year and decade honours. Huge inclusion with a great on-field presence that the club have been desperate for.
Dylan Cawsey returns home after averaging 33 disposals and making the Team of the Year in the Outer East Division Two competition.
Also, back in the blue and red is Jake Cawsey, who brings across the capability of putting together a big season up forward. The 26-year-old has put together 160 goals in the space of three seasons.
Looking forward to seeing the side take shape ahead of 2024.
UFTG also had plenty of representation in the Bendigo Bank Netball season, with two sides in the competition.
UFTG Red competed in Division Four, remaining highly competitive to win seven games a draw, finishing sixth. Leesa Meldrum starred with 238 goals for the season, her improvement across the season was notable, averaging over 20 points a game in the side’s five weeks of the season.
Their second team, UFTG Blue competed in Division Six, after the grading period. They finished the season with 6 wins, a draw and 7 losses. Their record saw the side just miss out on a finals spot, finishing fifth. Brooke Fennessy top-scored for the side with 195 goals from 11 games. Her highest score came in the final round of the year with 29 goals.
Upper Ferntree Gully Junior Football Club managed to retain nine teams in the Junior competition in season 2023.
The club did a fantastic job hosting the Under 8’s tournament at Kings Park, as well as some of the junior finals series.